- Utilities and corporations signed 8.7 GW of wind energy power purchase agreements (PPAs) in 2019, according to the American Wind Energy Association's (AWEA) quarterly report on Wednesday.
- Utilities procured a record amount of wind capacity 2019, nearly 5.3 GW, according to the report. For wind installation, Xcel Energy and Berkshire Hathaway Energy have "significant amounts" of wind energy planned to be brought online in the near term, as part of 20 utilities with directly-owned wind projects in the advanced stages of construction.
- 2019 was also the third strongest year in wind installations, with more than 9.1 GW of turbines added. Most of the project construction wrapped up in the end of the year: 5.48 GW of projects were developed across 16 states in Q4, as opposed to 5.94 GW in the same quarter in 2018, per AWEA.
Though utilities led wind energy additions in 2019, corporate procurement and contracts are expected to increase in the near term.
For companies to hit their 100% renewable energy obligations, they will need "substantially more contracts going forward," Ethan Zindler, the head of Americas at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said on Wednesday during a webinar hosted by the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE).
Corporate procurements have made up more than 20% of new wind installations for the fourth year in a row, according to AWEA, indicating continued interest in renewables across a number of sectors, including from oil and natural gas companies.
Wind additions are expected to be very strong in 2020, Zindler added. A lot of the installations could be driven by the production tax credit (PTC), from which developers could be getting value until 2024, he said.
December 2020 is "not an absolute deadline" for developers to get 100% of the PTC, but there's a bigger burden on developers to prove out continuous efforts of construction to the Internal Revenue Service, according to Wolfram Pohl, a partner in the tax division of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.
While a lot of renewable energy advocates continue to be focused on tax legislation, the nearest opportunities in Congress, during an election year, are "limited," according to ACORE Chief Operating Officer Bill Parsons. "As early as May," opportunities exist to add legislation to must-pass bills, but not in vehicles that fall under the purview of tax writing committees in Congress, he said during Wednesday's webinar.
Several bills, including House Democrat-led initiatives, seek to further renewable energy deployment. The House Energy and Commerce' "Clean Future Act," released Tuesday, is "driven by what the scientists say is required to address climate change" and promotes transmission planning and energy storage, Parsons said.
Although more renewable energy procurement is expected, natural gas is projected to remain the dominant resource in the U.S. energy mix until 2040, according to analysis the Energy Information Administration included in its annual outlook. The latter analysis is based on modeling that does not account for technological innovations and policy changes.